School Board Talks Through Changes For the 2023-2024 School Year, Transparency With Public, New Middle School

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, the Loudoun County School Board met to discuss transparency with the public, forming a select audit committee, elementary school attendance zone changes, school name reviews, and a new middle school.


Amelia Chen

The Loudoun County School Board considered a revision of Policy 2430, proclamations for National Professional Social Work Month, and the adoption of Policy 3210 at their Valentine’s Day meeting.

On Feb. 14, the Loudoun County School Board gathered to discuss changes that would affect LCPS for the 2023-2024 school year. From attendance zone revisions for elementary schools because of overcrowding, to plans for building a new middle school, the school board went through adjustments that are to take place in Fall 2023.

Following the introduction of present board members and staff as well as those who were remotely participating, the board went through their approval of consent agenda before having a work session, going through information items, and having a recess meeting. The room quieted for the Pledge of Allegiance led by student Reagan B. of River Bend Middle School before the National Anthem was performed by the Rock Ridge Chamber Orchestra. “It’s the first time Rock Ridge has ever done that,” principal cellist senior Sydney Pascual said. “It was kind of surreal, playing that and everybody standing while we played, it was really cool.”

Transparency With the Public

On Dec. 13, 2022, the board engaged in a work session to discuss the recommendations provided in the grand jury report regarding the sexual assaults in 2021. A recommendation that caused discussion was the limiting the degree to which public matters and information of public concern are shielded from the public under the cloak of attorney-client privilege. Every board member is presented with an attorney provided to them by the school board. The attorney directs board members to not answer many questions due to attorney-client privilege. However, where the limit should be drawn when it comes to public knowledge and information being discussed with the attorney causes confusion, because school board members act on behalf of the public they are elected to serve.

Formation of a Select Audit Committee

On Jan. 10, 2023, the board first discussed and agreed on creating a select committee in order for the Auditor General to be able to report on the Division’s audit plan. During this meeting the committee was created to help manage risk, develop efficient business processes, and investigate fraud allegations.

Along with helping the Auditor General, this new committee will be helping the Loudoun County school district as a whole. “This select committee…sets up the guidelines, sets up the directions of how the board will like this office to operate,” Ashburn District Vice Chair Harris Mahedevi said. “Having a select committee will help us provide ongoing feedback, independent feedback, out of the division and continue to strengthen our division and continue to improve the overall school district.” From reporting back to the board to managing multiple different aspects of the division, this new addition aims to help the LCPS School Board manage the county easier.

Elementary School Attendance Zone Changes

On June 28, 2022, the School Board met to establish a calendar for the attendance zone change process for secondary schools and the Fiscal Year 2024 capital budgets. This calendar also included a recommendation for a similar zone change for elementary schools which turned into Policy 6530: Changing School Attendance Zones

This policy will be implemented in Fall 2023, and it dealt with certain issues caused by new residential developments, overcrowding, and charter school conversion. However, some board members were weary of this proposal, “I didn’t agree with the changes to 06,” Catoctin District board member representative John Beatty said. “I think this is just one way to accommodate those families who have a strong desire to stay [at a] Loudoun County high school…and would like continuity for their students, especially during this critical time in their child’s development.”

There might be controversy surrounding this decision, especially as many kids quickly become attached to not only their elementary school but mostly the people in it, whether it be their teachers or friends. This is partially combatted by Policy 8160, which allows students going into fifth grade in 2023-2024 to remain at their current school to finish out elementary school. However, these students will not be given the opportunity to take an LCPS bus to school, and must find their own transportation. 

Review of School Names

In recognition of Black History month, name changes for schools that have their titles in ties with Confederate leaders or causes of the same nature were proposed. Schools like Hutchison Farm, Seldens Landing and Sully Elementary Schools have been suggested for a name change. Matters such as this and actions relating to the relevant topics have been the center of serious discussion in order to make the increasingly diverse student body feel comfortable. The extensive change list includes places which have ties to Jim Crow laws and plantation land. Final decisions of the changes were eventually postponed to allow for more community engagement with the topic. The issue will be reopened in September 2023.

New Middle School

On Jan. 24 Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ashley Ellis and Chief Operations Officer Kevin Lewis proposed an outline of a non-traditional school model to the Board in reference to a new middle school proposed to aid the overcrowding in Independence High School and Brambleton Middle School. The new facilities currently have unknown financial impact, but will most likely cost more than traditional middle school layouts.

The recommended action was that the Loudoun County School Board endorse the non-traditional school model with Independence High School and Brambleton Middle School, beginning fall 2024.” presented by the Deputy Superintendent. This plan will most likely result in changes in attendance areas which will rezone students from Independence and Brambleton to other schools in the area, until the opening of the new high school in the Dulles North area in 2028.